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EU and Germany join efforts to support the African Union's response to #Coronavirus

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The EU continues to work with member states to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on all fronts. Today, 500.000 additional coronavirus testing kits have been provided to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The test kits were delivered by an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight and are part of a €10 million immediate support package to the African Union (AU) by the German Government in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In total, almost 1.4 million tests for the extraction and the detection of the virus will be made available to African Union countries. 

“Through the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, the European Commission continues to work hand in hand with Member States to support vulnerable countries amidst the coronavirus pandemic. It is in our common interest to tackle the pandemic worldwide. We are committed to ensuring effective delivery of essential medical equipment to the countries that need it the most. This specific consignment will be able to reach a large number of countries as it will support the African Union continental response,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

The kits delivery is part of the larger Team Europe support to the African continental response to the coronavirus. Federal Republic of Germany Development Co-operation Minister Gerd Müller said on the occasion: “We will either beat the coronavirus together worldwide – or not at all. This is why we support the African Union through the German Epidemic Preparedness Team in co-operation with the EU. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention co-ordinate the procurement of life-saving testing equipment for AU member states. They also play an important role in educating African health workers. With our support to the partnership to accelerate coronavirus testing, we make sure that testing is made widely available. We stand by our friends in Africa in the fight against the coronavirus.”

The full press release is available online.

Africa

Politicizing the telecom sector risks increasing costs for consumers

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Huawei’s chief EU representative Abraham Liukang

Huawei’s chief EU representative Abraham Liukang

Speaking this afternoon (21 October) at an African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) webinar on the importance of EU-AU co-operation in research, Huawei’s chief EU representative Abraham Liukang warned that politicizing the future development of the telecom sector will only have the effect of pushing up consumer costs. “Basically, 4G and 5G were built around common technology standards. This brought benefits to consumers in terms of both the quality of new technology products that became available and in cost reductions for the end user. This process of advanced digitization has taken place due to global collaboration in research and science.

"The last thing that the world needs now is for de-coupling to arise as new tech solutions are built. The world should be about uniting together to fight issues like COVID-19 and climate change.

"Huawei has a strong history in taking part in EU research projects and we have also rolled out broadband in many rural parts of Africa, including through our innovative Rural Star project.”

Carlos Zorrinho MEP and who is also the joint chairperson of the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly said: “The partnership of equals between the EU and Africa is just exactly that.

"There has to be an equal playing pitch in AU-EU relations when it comes to both the free movement of researchers and the free movement of ideas. Civil society in Africa needs to be engaged more by African governments on research issues. Science needs to be about finding solutions to key problems and it cannot be about controlling lives.

"The EU should support a new Wifi for All initiative in Africa.”

Annelisa Primi from the OECD said that “good science anywhere is good science everywhere. Make science, don’t buy it.

"Africa is helping the world to tackle Covid-19. Due to the experience of Ebola, Africa knows the priorities that need to be set in handling this pandemic.”

Moctar Yedaly, head of ICT at the African Union today said: “African governments need to invest in [email protected] or they will lose out from the benefits of digitization.

"There must be a paradigm shift in thinking by African governments on this investment matter.

"Investing in clean and green technologies is key – if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be reached.

"Cybersecurity and data projects are very important as people around the world want to transact business without any danger.”

Declan Kirrane, managing director of ISC Intelligence said: “There is already ground-breaking research going on in Africa.

"The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) astronomy project is a global scientific initiative. African researchers are very strong too in the areas of data and computational sciences.

"Capacity building in Africa must improve if African researchers are to fully benefit from Horizon Europe and there should also be an alignment between Africa and the EU on GDPR and related policy subjects such as the health sector. The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership is also making strong advances in tackling HIV, AIDS and malaria.”

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Senior MEP calls on Parliament to 'restore calm' in Guinea after elections

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A senior MEP has called on the EU to press Guinea to “restore calm” after the weekend presidential elections left the trouble-torn African country in further turmoil.

Official results will not be known for several days and the local media have been banned from publishing exit poll results. But it is widely rumoured that the main opposition candidate, Cello Dalein Diallo, beat the sitting president Alpha Conde by over 50%.

There are now fears of unrest with Diallo suggesting the incumbent may “cheat” and dispute the outcome of Sunday’s (18 October) election in a bid to stay in power.

Diallo is apparently in hiding following rumours that he might be arrested.

Belgian Socialist Maria Arena, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s sub committee on human rights, told this website: “It seems important to me that the European Union, namely the external action service but also the member states, use political and diplomatic dialogue to try to restore calm in Guinea.”

On Monday (19 October), speaking exclusively to this website, Diallo said: “I am convinced from the results obtained that I won this election despite fraud and intimidation. I appeal to officials, territorial administrators and members of the branches of the CENI (Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante) to ensure that all compatriots observe and respect the electoral code and other laws and good practices so that our country does not sink into violence.”

He added: “We don't need it. But, the risk is that if Alpha Condé wants at all costs, and whatever the results of the ballot box, to proclaim itself the winner. Let him understand that we will not accept.”

Diallo went on, “I now ask the international community to take its responsibilities to save Guinea from drift.”

In the vote, which followed months of political unrest where dozens of people were killed during security crackdowns on mass protests, 82-year-old Conde sought a controversial third term.

Diallo told reporters, “Alpha Conde cannot abandon his desire to grant himself a presidency for life.” He warned his rival not take power using “cunning and violence”.

Diallo said that in the election observers had encountered obstructions at polling stations while Guinea’s Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana admitted there had been “incidents.”

Ten other candidates besides Conde and Diallo contested the poll and, if necessary, a second-round runoff vote is scheduled for November 24.

Much of the tension in Guinea relates to a new constitution Conde pushed through in March, in defiance of mass protests, arguing that it would modernise the country.

The move controversially allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidential terms. Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and won again in 2015 but rights groups now accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism.

Maria Arena, also a member of the Parliament’s influential conference of committee chairs and foreign affairs committee, noted that an emergency resolution had been voted by the assembly in February condemning Condé's desire to change the constitution by referendum to allow him to exercise a third term.

She said: “In this resolution, the European Parliament had already pointed out human rights violations and urged the government to organize transparent, pluralist and inclusive elections.

"But Condé, who called himself the president of democracy (“the Mandela of West Africa”) changed his ways and took the path of repression by locking up opponents.”

Turning to the current post-election period, she said: “We must avoid repeating the scenes of violence of 2009.”

She added: “Unfortunately the covid pandemic did not allow the EU to deploy an election observation mission. This is damaging for Guinea.

“Guinea, like the other African countries, has signed the Cotonou Agreement, which is still applicable and this agreement provides for sanctions mechanisms in the event of non-respect for good governance and democracy. The European Council will also be able to use this tool if the elections lead to a failure to respect these principles and if the Guinean population is a victim.”

Further comment comes from foreign affairs committee chairman German MEP David McAllister who told this website he did not want a repeat of the violence seen during the legislative elections and a constitutional referendum in March which he said “was deeply shocking”.

“The EU has rightly called on the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations so that those responsible can be prosecuted.

“The presidential election on  Sunday was included amongst the 2020 priorities for an EU-Election Expert Mission but the political situation in the country made it impossible to deploy a mission, as the minimal conditions were clearly lacking. Furthermore, the Guinean authorities did not actively send any invitation to the EU for an election observation,” said the EPP deputy.

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Founder of leading pan-African communications consultancy APO Group to help select Jack Ma Foundation’s Top 10 finalists of Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition

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The Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has chosen APO Group Founder and Chairman Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard as a semi-final judge for this year’s prestigious competition “Africa’s Business Heroes”.

The ANPI organizes Africa’s Business Heroes - now in its second year – a grassroots competition looking to spotlight and give a platform to entrepreneurs all over Africa, to showcase their business ideas and inspire others to do so.

The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to fostering African entrepreneurship, and has brought in some of the continent’s most esteemed business people and investors to help the search for Africa’s Business Heroes. Nicolas will be part of a select seven-judge panel who will interview candidates from a semi-final shortlist of 20 entrepreneurs based all over Africa.

In earlier qualification rounds, more than 150 prominent African business leaders acted as initial judges to whittle down more than 20,000 applicants to the final 50.

In the online semi-final, held on 28 and 29 August 2020, Nicolas will help to identify the ten finalists who will go forward to compete in a ‘pitch finale’ in front of Jack Ma himself, among others.

Nicolas has spent more than a decade at the forefront of African business. In 2007, he founded APO Group from his own living room using his own savings, and he has seen it grow into the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy, providing strategic advice to multinational organizations in diverse industries.

Now, in his role as Chairman of APO Group, Nicolas has committed to supporting the next generation of African entrepreneurs. In 2019, he embarked upon a series of conferences in some of Africa’s most prominent universities. He spoke about entrepreneurship, business and journalism to students in Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Nicolas is also a member of several Advisory Boards, including: the African Energy Chamber, an organization that drives collaboration between African governments and the private sector in all areas of the energy industry; the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, the premier hotel investment conference in Africa; and the EurAfrican Forum, an action-oriented platform that aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa.

The ANPI prize launched last year, and the competition in 2020 is even bigger and better. The prize fund has increased from $1 million to $1.5m, with each of the ten finalists receiving a share of it. The value of the Prize goes far beyond mere financial gain, and represents an extraordinary platform where all participants, and not just the winners, have benefited from expertise and insights garnered within the ANPI community of business leaders.

More than 22,000 applicants representing all 54 African countries applied for the chance to be the next African Business Hero - more than double the number of entries in 2019.

In another change from last year, applicants were also able to submit their applications and hold selection interviews in French, a further proof of the inclusive and pan-African spirit of the initiative. As a self-made Franco-Gabonese entrepreneur, Nicolas is well placed to help identify the very best of Francophone African start-ups and innovators.

“Jack Ma is at the very pinnacle of global entrepreneurship, so it is an honour to have been asked to judge this year’s semi-final of the ANPI competition,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and Chairman of APO Group. “It is fantastic to see the Jack Ma Foundation investing so much energy into African entrepreneurship, and I am delighted to see such a high level of talent from this year’s applicants as we get ready to crown the next African Business Heroes.”

Find out more about the ANPI competition and view the full list of semi-finalists here.

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